Media sexualization of children.
A resource and practical advice for parents.
1. Ask your children what they like about their idols. For example, if your daughter looks up to Miley Cyrus ask her what her favorite things about Miley are?
If your daughter mentions something appearance-related, ask her what else she likes
e.g. Does she like that
– Miley is confident?
– she has a point of view?
– she’s passionate about her music?
– her music is fun to listen to?
– She seems like she’d be a fun friend to have?
2. Talk to your children about media literacy. Teach your children about how some TV shows and advertising perpetuate particular stereotypes about gender, relationships, beauty, weight, race etc. Point out specific examples of stereotypical and non stereotypical portrayals, at the time you notice them.
In addition to talking to your children about the impact of the media on people’s beliefs about attractiveness and relationships, also talk to your children about how advertising is used to imply you will be happy or popular if you own certain products.
3. If Dads make an effort to talk to their daughters about their daughter’s thoughts/opinions etc it will help daughters understand that their thoughts and opinions are important to men, not just their physical appearance. Dad shouldn’t worry if they feel awkward or stumble a bit.
4. Sometimes children get stuck in roles in families e.g. Kate is smart, Jack is sporty, Amelia is pretty. Vary the qualities and behaviours you praise your child for. Include praise for interpersonal behaviours e.g. thoughtfulness.
5. When you see a positive, non-stereotypical, age-appropriate role model portrayed on a TV show or advertisement, consider using social networking (Facebook, Twitter) to publicly tell the TV network or company. Let them know what you liked and that you’d like to see more of it on your screens/product packaging etc.
6. When you talk to your children about sex, talk to them about issues like asking for/agreeing to provocative photos, sex PXTing etc.
7. Talk to your boys as well as your girls. Help your boys and your girls find positive and diverse role models and to have healthy attitudes to sex and relationships.
8. Supervision and involvement is key. In order to talk to your children about their media exposure you need to know what they’re watching on television, the internet, video games etc.
This press release from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists contains information from research studies about the mechanisms of how media sexualization of children impacts children’s development.